Potential for more women at the top in wine industry

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Women in Wine Central Otago founder Janiene Bayliss writes about the skills and empowerment of women in this week’s Central Otago News column:

Women in Wine in Central Otago was established to empower women, allow their voices to be heard, greatly add to their knowledge, provide self-help, bring about change and shine the light on practices that need to change.

It now has more than 200 members from all aspects of the industry.

As with most industries in New Zealand, the lack of representation at the top of the organisation (17%) is unacceptable in this day and age.

Any change in the representation of women in an organisation has to begin at the top – it’s impossible to do so from the bottom up.

Companies need to really understand that if they continue to fill their boardrooms from only 49% of the population they are missing out on significant value creation, and shareholders should be asking serious questions.

For women in these companies, it becomes very frustrating with the way business is done and their lack of contribution becomes unbearable, resulting in women just leaving their jobs and seeking something worthwhile elsewhere or starting their own business.

But when you are part of an industry and you already own your own business, you need a very big stick to bring about real changes.

What our industry cannot afford is to lose women from its ranks, as both skilled and unskilled workers are in very short supply.

They want to see a career and a future.

Forty-six percent of the workforce in the wine industry is female, yet at the top of the industry representing us, until quite recently, there were no women.

In addition to this, New Zealand Winegrowers recently established a research company to oversee its $12million government grant. It has appointed an all-male board and not one of the appointees has a research background.

It’s often stated that there are not enough women able to take the roles at the top of companies. This is referred to as a “pipeline of expertise”.

But what our research shows is that in our industry there are about 1000 women skilled and capable of making a significant contribution to their industry.

Likewise, throughout New Zealand there are about 10,000 professional women in the skilled capable pipeline, ready to make their seat at the top table of companies.

That is enough women to give every boardroom in this country 50% representation.

That’s what we should all be striving for.

It’s quite simple and we don’t need to think about it.

It’s called equality.